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There has been a beneficial change in the Liquor Code regarding happy hours which is now in effect as of June 28, 2011.  The time periods for “happy hours” in which a retail licensee may discount the price of alcoholic beverages has been expanded from two (2) hours to four (4) hours per day, but the maximum number of the happy hours are not to exceed fourteen (14) hours per week.

The “happy hour” discount pricing rule has now been given an element of flexibility in that a license may schedule happy hours for a maximum of four (4) hours per day for a maximum of fourteen (14) hours per week.  How a licensee distributes the 14 hours per week is the licensee’s decision.

Previously, the happy hours were limited to two consecutive hours per day.  The hours could not be split, as for example, 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M., and 10:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. on the same day.  Now retail licensees have the option to split the four daily “happy hours” as they see fit to adjust to their business needs.  Therefore, a licensee could have a happy hour special from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. for the first hour and the remaining three hours from 9:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M.  Of course, licensees can choose to have the daily maximum four (4) hours scheduled consecutively, as 8:00 P.M. to midnight, 12:00 A.M.

There are still restrictions:Licensees must post a dated notice on the licensed premises listing the happy hours seven (7) days prior to each scheduled happy hour offering.  Therefore, the hours cannot be changed the day before.

All of the happy hours, no matter how they are divided throughout the day, cannot go past midnight.  All of the happy hour discount pricing specials must end at midnight.  This midnight deadline did not change from the previous law.

Licensees cannot have more than fourteen (14) happy hours per week.  Fourteen is the absolute, maximum number of hours allowed.  Remember, the total number of hours offered as happy hours must be listed on your notice poster for the world to see.

Remember, the maximum daily number of happy hours is four (4) hours per day.  You cannot accumulate the happy hours from one day to the next so that you have five hours on a given day, for example, three hours on Thursday and five hours on Friday.  Be careful of your math.  Four hours is the daily number.

There has not been any change in the law as to the other prohibited alcoholic discount pricing practices  For example, you still legally are not allowed to hold an “all you can drink contest,” or offer two drinks for the price of one.

You should consult with your attorney should you have any questions about the new change.  You also may to on the PLCB’s website at  HYPERLINK “http://www.lcb.state.pa.us” www.lcb.state.pa.us.